Mitt Romney holds a seven point lead over Rick Santorum in the upcoming Wisconsin primary next Tuesday, according to a new Marist/NBC News poll. From Marist:

Here is how the contest stands in Wisconsin:

  • 40% for Mitt Romney
  • 33% for Rick Santorum
  • 11% for Ron Paul
  • 8% for Newt Gingrich
  • 7% are undecided

“The pattern of support is similar in Wisconsin as elsewhere,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “The advantage for Romney is the Wisconsin GOP primary electorate more closely resembles states he has carried.”

This is the second poll this week out of Wisconsin to show Romney leading with high single digits. Similarly, a Marquette Law School poll had Romney up by eight.

A loss in Wisconsin would be a serious setback for the Santorum campaign which is desperately trying to stop the sense that Romney is inevitable. Wisconsin is one of the few state left in this primary outside the Bible Belt that doesn’t have a large Mormon population or isn’t extremely liberal. Based on the demographics, Santorum potentially can win here, so losing Wisconsin would be a serious problem.

If Santorum doesn’t beat Romney in Wisconsin there really aren’t many states left where he could potentially change the narrative. If Santorum loses this primary on Tuesday expect the drumbeat to get him to drop out to intensify. This long primary fight has been really damaging to Romney’s image.